You’ve been working hard for a long time. Pretty much as long as you can remember. Now all that hard work is paying off, right? You have a job you absolutely love, you’re making loads of money, you have ample time to enjoy your friends and family and you can’t remember a time when you were happier and more content. If this last sentence rings true for you, congratulations! While this blog post was not really written with you in mind, you’re welcome to read on.
For those of you (doctors, residents and medical students) who aren’t experiencing your desired level of success or sense of flow in your lives right now, I wrote this post with you in mind.
You’ve overcome many hurdles to get where you are, and you have much to be proud of. Yet how often do you stop and allow yourself to feel this sense of pride? Probably not as often as you allow yourself to feel stressed or anxious about what your days consist of, and what your future will bring. Please take a few moments, right now, to appreciate and recognize yourself for all that you’ve accomplished and endured to get where you are now. Give yourself a hug, or a pat on the shoulder, or place your hands over your heart, and accept my sincere gratitude and appreciation. You are doing truly important work and you are making a difference in many people’s lives. Thank you.
You’ve already proven that you have what it takes to succeed. You’ve shown that you can establish a difficult goal and do what’s necessary to achieve that goal. You can hold your own against the competition; you can survive lack of sleep, intense pressure and a grueling schedule. You are an accomplished physician (or resident or student,) yet you probably find yourself in limbo between trying to excel, trying to survive, and trying to somehow maintain a sense of balance in your life and your relationships.
Because there have been so many changes in the healthcare landscape recently, many doctors (including residents and medical students) find it difficult to feel hopeful, or to create a clear vision of their future. Healthcare reform is just starting to have an impact, and the implications for our practices are unclear. For many doctors, this is creating a sense of foreboding, uneasiness, or downright fear. Many doctors (perhaps even most) see themselves as “victims of change,” or “victims of circumstances.”
I’d like to offer you a better way to plan for your future. Rather than worry about what “might” be, why not focus on the aspects of your future that you DO have control over. Since there’s no way to truly know what the future has in store, instead of worrying so much about things that may or may not ever come to be, wouldn’t it serve you better to develop strategies that allow you to adjust to any changes more powerfully and successfully? Wouldn’t it help to learn how to become truly adaptable, and to actually look forward to change, recognizing that change is one of the only constants in life? After all, isn’t change what allows you to grow and keeps things interesting?
If you are not a Master of Change, by default you are a Victim of Change!
Wouldn’t you rather be a Master of Change?
How do you do this? What are the steps to becoming a Master of Change?
I’ve devoted the past several years of my life to studying and teaching this very thing, and I’m very passionate about sharing what I’ve learned with others, especially doctors, who typically view change the same way they view root canal surgery or taxes.
Like most things that are truly valuable, becoming a Master of Change doesn’t happen overnight. However, once you feel that desire and make the commitment, it’s well within your grasp. You’ve tackled far more difficult challenges in your life.
The first step to becoming a Master of Change is developing a very clear understanding of who you are at your core- The Real You.
You may think you know who you are right now, but more than likely you’re relying on data that is incomplete at best, and very possibly, totally inaccurate. Most people believe that they are the sum total of the experiences they’ve had and what society has defined them as. Most people are wrong, which is why most people lead “lives of quiet desperation.” You don’t need to be like most people.
Knowing who you are at your core-the Real You- requires you to be very honest with yourself. Sometimes you need to get feedback from other people who know you well and you trust to tell you the truth. Parts of the process can be uncomfortable, but if you’re committed to it, what comes out of the process is nothing short of miraculous. Knowing who you are at your core provides you with an internal navigation system (an internal GPS) that will assist you in making the right decisions– every time– for the rest of your life. And like a good navigation system, it will guide you back whenever you veer off of your true path (which is bound to happen.)
This isn’t something that requires deep spiritual practice or hundreds of hours of silent meditation, though I certainly wouldn’t discourage this type of practice if you want to go there. Discovering who you are at your core is something you can do in the comfort of your home, in just a few hours. There are loads of exercises and programs available out there to help you achieve this understanding, and I would be thrilled to assist you through one of our upcoming Doctors On Purpose workshops or virtual group programs, so please stay tuned for more information on how to participate in one of these. If you want to learn about doing this in a more intimate, one-on-one format, which is the fastest and most powerful way to get there, please email me at DrBob@DoctorsOnPurpose.com and we can discuss how we can work together.
I’m going to share more details about the process of knowing who you are and becoming a Master of Change in my next blog post, but for now, please give some thought to these all-important questions:
These are the key inquiries you must explore to truly know who you are, which is the first step to becoming a Master of Change.
I wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving and a peaceful and friendship-filled holiday season!
My son, Eric, is leaving for a year to study abroad in Santiago, Chile, in less than two weeks. He’s excited and a bit nervous. He’s nervous about being in a foreign city, far away from what he knows and is familiar with. He’s also excited about being in a foreign city, far away from what he knows and is familiar with. I’m thrilled for him, because I realize this will be an amazing experience that will stand out as a highlight and a turning point in his life. When I was slightly more than a year older than Eric I spent four months in Europe, and that experience helped shape the person I am and is in my awareness almost daily.
I want to use this space to introduce you to Eric and share some of my thoughts about him. We don’t share our thoughts about our children with other people often enough. We don’t honor and celebrate them by singing their praises and letting them know just how much they’ve added to our lives and to the world.
Eric Lee Uslander was born on October 28th, 1991 in Evanston, Illinois. It was a long labor, and he had a bit of a cone head when he finally arrived. No matter. I thought he was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen. I was 29 at the time, having just finished my residency in Emergency Medicine. Sandy was 25, and was finishing her degree in Anthropology at Northwestern University. Eric was our first child, and was the first grandchild on both sides. Needless to say, his birth was a pretty important event in many peoples’ lives.
Eric spent his first two years living in Chicago. I recall walking the streets of Wrigleyville with him in a backpack, singing and laughing together as we wandered the neighborhood. My parents lived thirty minutes away and were a frequent presence in his life. His next three years were spent on Guam, close to his other grandparents. I recall many blissful hours on the beach there, and became familiar with a wonderful and different culture. A baby sister also entered his life during this period. When Eric was five and Carly was three, we moved to Sonora, a small town in Northern California, where we lived until Eric graduated from high school. We had a small town experience there, and got the benefits of living on a ranch, with horses, goats and chickens to care for and enjoy. Many great friendships developed there.
Eric just completed his sophomore year at UC Santa Barbara and will spend his junior year as a foreign exchange student at a private university in Santiago, Chile. He is a Global Studies major and at the moment his plan is to work in the non-profit arena in some capacity, bringing his experience and gifts to the people of the world who need and will benefit the most.
Now that you know a bit about Eric’s background, where he lived and what he’s doing, I’d like to share a bit about the person Eric Lee Uslander has become. As a write this, I realize that it could be construed as “bragging” when I discuss his attributes and his character. Please know that I take little credit for how any of my children have developed. I like to say that all I’ve done is “not screwed them up.” I firmly believe that as parents we can create the right atmosphere for our children’s true genius to unfold, but we shouldn’t take credit for how far they climb in life. On the other hand, we should take responsibility for creating significant challenges for them, and making life more difficult, by instilling fear and limitation in them through our words and our actions. In essence, I believe we just need to love and support them, and get out of their way.
Back to Eric.
Eric is one of the kindest, most caring, genuine and humble people I have ever met. In his 20 + years of life, I have never heard him say a negative thing about another person. He’s thoughtful, almost to the point of self-sacrifice. He loves to connect with other people, and shows respect for every person he engages with, whether they’re the president of a university or a homeless person asking for a handout. He views the world without judgment, and he is open to receiving guidance and feedback about everything. He’s humble in that way.
He’s also one of the most positive people I know. Life is his playground, and he spreads his enthusiasm naturally. Even his friends marvel at how positive Eric is, and they’ve shared with me how much he adds to their lives. (Try not beaming after hearing that about your child from the people who know him best.)
Eric spontaneously calls his grandparents on the phone to just chat with them, partly because he enjoys interacting with them, though I’m sure that a big part of his motivation is knowing how thrilled they are to hear from him spontaneously. For that I can forgive him forgetting an occasional birthday.
Eric now has a little brother, Levi, who idolizes him. Levi is five. Recently, Eric took a five hour train ride from Santa Barbara to San Diego to spend three full days with Levi so Sandy and I could attend a conference. How many twenty-year old boys will do that, and do it willingly, recognizing what a gift it is for them?
Eric is a sponge for knowledge and inspiration. As a Global Studies major he is being exposed to many different cultures and religions, which he’s taking in and growing from in many ways. He’s realistic about the issues facing the world, but such an optimist about what’s possible for people to achieve when they collaborate and bring their highest selves to the playing field.
I could go on (and on,) but in the interest in time and space I’ll stop here.
Watching, and being an integral part of, Eric’s journey has been one of the absolute highlights of my life. Just thinking about him inspires me, fills me up with love, and makes me hopeful for the future of humanity. If I need something to pick me up and give me a shot of positive emotion and energy, I can just think back to one of the beautiful images etched in my mind from his childhood, or picture his confident, enthusiastic face, and I’m filled up and feeling positive and inspired. That’s the effect he has on me, and, I imagine, on many other people as well.
I love you, Eric, and I’m so excited about your life and what will continue to unfold for you as you walk your path. I’m excited for the people whose lives you will touch along that path. It’s an honor to be your father and your friend.